The Santa Maria Sun Times

Did you have a chance to read the article in the Santa Maria Sun times today? Well here it is. We are humbled to read that we made the local section of the online paper. Below is a cut and paste from the article and some of the photos by Frank Cowen.


Every year, members of the Guadalupe Buddhist Church make sure to remember their ancestors and show gratitude by honoring them with traditional dances, food and cultural exhibits. The annual Obon Festival will be held Sunday at the Veterans’ Memorial Community Center in Santa Maria.

The tradition has been going strong in the area for over 65 years and “is only getting bigger and bigger,” said Rev. Naomi Nakano, of the San Luis Obispo and Guadalupe Buddhist temples.

It is believed that each year during Obon, the ancestors’ spirits return to this world in order to visit their relatives, and people will be “paying honor and showing thankfulness for their sacrifices in helping making it possible for us to still have a temple to worship,” Nakano said.

The festival also teaches Japanese/Buddhist culture to those who may not be familiar with it, he added.

“Our ancestors were poor, were discriminated against and had to build something out of nothing,” Nakano said. “But they always looked ahead for the future generation in hopes that they wouldn’t have to suffer as much as they did — whether it was education, religious freedom and everything else.”

 The day’s events will include bonsai tree demonstrations, martial arts demonstrations, taiko drumming and the traditional dance performance, called the Bon-Odori.

“The dance is always fun because it allows us to let go of our egos,” Nakano said. “When we perform, we always worry about our appearances, but that’s not what the dance should be about.”

The performance is about letting go of all human inhibitions — from pride, greed and anger — and celebrating tradition, he said.

Traditional staples from Japanese cuisine will also be served, including udon, sushi, teriyaki, kushiyaki and wontons. There will also be an interactive arts and crafts area for kids, featuring origami and face painting, and handmade craft items will be sold.

The free festival is scheduled to begin at 11:30 a.m. Sunday and will conclude at 6 p.m. The Veterans’ Memorial Center is located at 313 W. Tunnell St.


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